Kenya: Learners in Baringo South Face New Challenges

Learners in the flood-prone Baringo South, whose schools were swallowed by rising water levels in Lake Baringo last year, are facing new challenges.

The students were forced to relocate to safer grounds and conduct classes in temporary tents, but now the tents have been destroyed by strong winds and heavy rains.

Falling apart

The Nation established that most of the temporary tents donated to the institutions by the Kenya Red Cross, the county government and other well-wishers are tattered, with the pillars holding them falling apart.

Lake Baringo increased exponentially since March last year submerging adjacent structures including schools, health facilities, churches and homesteads which led to the displacement of more than 10,000 locals bordering it.

The more than 15 schools that were submerged by the flood waters relocated to safer areas while other learners were integrated in other neighbouring schools.

Among the affected institutions include Salabani, Ng'ambo Girls'and Lake Baringo mixed secondary schools as well as Ng'ambo, Sintaan, Leswa, Lorok,Loruk , Loropil, Noosukro, Kiserian, Loruk,Ilng'arua, Ng'enyin, Sokotei and Salabani primary schools.

The institutions were supposed to be relocated and rebuilt by the government but they are yet to due to lack of funding.

Parents and teachers raised concern that learners have been forced to learn in deplorable conditions exposing them to cold or being rained on following the onset of the long rains.

According to teachers, the tents get torn easily and most of them got destroyed as early as last term.

At Noosukro Primary school for instance, all the eight tents donated by the Kenya Red Cross have worn off and they have been forced to learn under trees despite the cold as they contemplate looking for an alternative.

The school head teacher Jeremiah Nakure said they are resorting to relocate to their former institution after waters receded.

"This area is characterised by strong winds even during dry seasons thus destroying the eight tents we received as a donation last year. The pillars had also broken and sometimes it would fall while going on with learning, risking the lives of pupils," said Mr Nakure.

He added: "We are contemplating to relocate in the meantime to our initial school, after water at the lake receded as we look for a solution because the rains are here and the pupils cannot learn under trees anymore."

The scenario is the same at Ng'ambo Primary, Salabani and Lake Baringo Mixed secondary schools where the temporary tents were destroyed by strong winds and scorching sun, forcing students to learn under trees.

At Ng'ambo Primary School, the institution was fully submerged and it was relocated to a new site, Seriani ECDE center, more than 10kms away which had only one structure accommodating the kindergarten learners.

According to the head teacher Shariff Parkolwa, they received seven tents from the Red Cross and county government last term but they were not enough for the 320 learners, owing to the social distancing to combat the spread of covid-19.

"Some of the tents were small and could accommodate only 10 pupils. We resorted to teaching some under trees to avoid congestion. The long rains have started, posing a challenge because we cannot teach in the open, thus forcing us to combine more than three classes in one bigger tent," said Mr Parkolwa.

At Salabani secondary school which was also relocated to a safer area after it was fully swallowed by Lake Baringo had received five small tents from the devolved unit last year, where three of them got tattered forcing some students to study under trees.

Mr Joshua Chemjor, the school head teacher said they have built two temporary classes for the form one and two students, while the form three classes learn under trees to avoid congestion in the small tents.

"Our school was swallowed by rising water in Lake Baringo last year, forcing us to relocate to a new site with no single structure. We got five tents from the county government but two are remaining after others got torn," said Mr Chemjor.

"It is a state of affairs here because the form three students are learning in the open. Now that the rains have started, we do not know where they will study because we only have two temporary classes. The two small tents are serving as staff rooms," he added.

At Lake Baringo Secondary school, the two tents which were serving as a dormitory and staff room are also worn out.

The initial school is now two kilometers inside the lake and a newly constructed laboratory, two dormitories, four classrooms, kitchen and two toilets had been marooned completely by the lake waters.

"Well-wishers helped us to rebuild four classes. We still need a dormitory, laboratory, staffrooms, toilets and bathrooms and are waiting for the funding promised by the government because we already have a new site," said the school head Samson Lekakimon.

The government last year had urged locals in the affected areas to look for an alternative site and they would provide funds to rebuild the submerged schools. To date, there is little to show as the funding is yet to be released.

When he toured the region in September last year to assess the extent of damage in the flooded schools, education principal secretary (PS) Belio Kipsang said he had given instructions to field officers led by the regional director to first map all the affected schools so that they can be related and reconstructed in other safer areas.

Baringo South Sub-County education director George Okeyo said the government had allocated Sh10 million to Salabani secondary and Sh4 million to Ng'ambo primary school to rebuild new structures but were yet to be released.

"We are still awaiting funding from the government to commence the construction of new structures in the two institutions. Some schools have sought help from well-wishers and have built temporary structures," said Mr Okeyo.

Lake Baringo has increased from 236kms square in 2015 to approximately 270kms square now.

The flooding at the Lake has forced more than 10,000 people to seek refuge in temporary camps in safer villages after their houses were completely swallowed by the Lake waters.

Among the worst hit villages are Loruk,Noosukro, Kokwa island, Kampi Samaki, Sokotei, Lorok,Loropil, Noosukro, Kiserian,Ruggus, Loitip, Mukutani ndogo, Ng'ambo, Sintaan, Salabani, Ilng'arua, Loboi and Longeiwan.

Lake Baringo warden Jackson Komen said the Lake has increased by more than 80 percent since the onset of the long rains, submerging adjacent structures and institutions.

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